ACCRA, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — The Ghana Health Service (GHS) rolled out here on Monday a program to vaccinate 32,000 basic schoolgirls against cervical cancer, the leading killer disease of women in reproductive age in the country.
Speaking to Xinhua via telephone, Director for Ghana’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), Dr Kwadwo Antwi Agyei, said girls between the ages of 9 and 12 in the selected districts in Northern and Central Regions would commence the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination between Monday and Friday.
“Each girl needs three doses of the 130-U.S. dollar per dose vaccine over a six-month period with the second dose occurring within one month of the first,” Dr. Antwi-Agyei explained.
According to him, the exercise, which is taking place in six districts in the Northern Region and seven in the Central Region, was to test its acceptability to the girls, their parents, and teachers.
It was also to see how easy it would be to reach the targeted group and girls out of school.
“Answers to these questions would then inform the formulation of a plan to roll out a nationwide vaccination exercise,” he added.
Funding for the 8.3 million-dollar worth of vaccines was provided by Axios, a United States-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) though the advocacy of Ruwide, a local NGO.
Ghana, according to official GHS data, has a population of 6.57 million women aged 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer, with 3,038 new cases diagnosed annually while 2006 die of the disease each year.
The disease is the most frequent cancer among Ghanaian women aged between 15 and 44 years.